Should you use presentation props?

Consider the size of your audience, the topics of your competing presenters, and whether your prop adds value. Remember: Brain good; live crocodile, not so much.

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It’s hard to forget Amy Tan revealing a tiny dog in her bag at the end of her TED Talk, “Where Does Creativity Hide?

Sometimes a presentation can be strengthened by a prop, even a living one, while other times props can detract from the message and remind the audience of a creepy puppet show. So, when is the right time to use a prop?

What response are you looking for?

The first question you should ask yourself is: Why would I use a prop? Is it to make people laugh? To deepen their understanding of the topic? If you are looking for a particular response, be sure that it’s still relevant to the tone and content of your presentation.

To see what we mean by “relevant,” check out Daniel Kraft’s use of multiple props in his TED Talk, “The Better Way to Harvest Bone Marrow.

Before you decide on what prop to use, write down its purpose and compare it against your existing content outline. Does it add value? If not, don’t use it.

Will other people be presenting?

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